Prime Minister Narendra Modi while participating in the celebrations of the signing of the Bodo Agreement in Kokrajhar, Assam on February 7, made a fervent appeal to those pursuing the path of violence to lay down their arms and return to the mainstream like the Bodo cadres. He requested the armed rebel groups to learn and draw inspiration from the Bodo youth and ‘start celebrating life’. He also lauded the role played by All Bodo Students Union (ABSU); National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB); Hagrama Mahilare, the Chief of BTC and the government of Assam for playing a positive role in the signing of the Bodo agreement.
The Prime Minister said that the accord would benefit the entire people of the Northeast region even as the powers of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) have been enhanced and strengthened.
However, what was even more significant was the announcement of a package of Rs 1500 crore which was likely to benefit Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). Modi picked up three key areas where the package offered could be utilized – Bodo Culture, Region and Education.
That was not all. The Prime Minister seemed to have found renewed hope as he had categorically stated that the government of India has now adopted a new approach to deal with various issues ‘plaguing’ the Northeast region India. While not specifying on what caused the actual ‘plaguing’ of the region, he had to add sparkle to the so called new approach by stating that it was made possible only after a deep understanding of the aspirations and the emotional issues of the region.
Against the backdrop of the hope hinged on the new approach to be applied, Narendra Modi also stated that the Northeast was the ‘growth engine’ of the country. One is not sure if the claim made by the Prime Minister were actually based on the imagined upward movement of the economy or the all palpable slowing down of the national economy.
Despite the general indifference and scepticism attached to the claim of adopting a new approach to either whitewash or solved all protracted issues in the Northeast region, the Prime Minister was quick to point out why there is a need nurture hope. He informed that over three thousand kilometres of roads have been built in the Northeast region in the last three to four years. New national highways have been approved and the entire Northeast rail network has been converted into broad gauge. For the Prime Minister, the focus of strengthening the youth of the region encompassed new institutions of education, skill and sports.
On a closer scrutiny of the claims made, it seems the so called new approach has less to do with the new but repackaging of the old concepts in a new avatar constrained by binaries often used to define and explain development. As citizens, we can only wait and watch if there was or would be any meat to the claims – raw or cooked.Bodo agreement, bodo accord, Bodo Territorial Council, Bodoland Territorial Area Districts